If we live in a world where we don’t fully own our digital content but have full access to ALL digital content, what happens?
Apple has given us iTunes, the iPod, Apple TV and the MacBook Air. All of which hate physical media. Apple helped killed the floppy, they put most momentum into killing the music CD and they’re doing the same for DVDs. And BluRay? Ttheir lack of support for it says it all. Dirty discs don’t suit Apple. Hell, they don’t like the public even accessing the battery part of the iPhone or the MacBook Air. Closed devices are what Apple likes, both in terms of ability to plug something into them as well as making the tech open.
Apple is probably doing more to kill off as much physical media as possible and move all our music and movies on to harddrives and then from there to the “cloud”. With ubiquitous broadband (stop laughing) we’ll be able to stream high quality music and video to our iPods or Apple TVs instead of storing it all on one device. (yeah there will be some local caching) There’s been rumours now and then that Apple wants to go down the subscription model where new iPod owners could get access to all the music they want for the lifetime of the iPod or a yearly subscription means all of iTunes can be accessed for free. All you can consume.
Fred Wilson has a really good and in-depth piece about the moving over from physically owning the CD to streaming of music. Streaming certainly has a strong future.
JP Rangaswami wrote this the other day on a blog post about collaboration but I think it’s on the money about content property rights turning into access rights in the future:
Or maybe it was because I grew up in Calcutta. Access to material goods seemed a lot more important than ownership of the same goods; possession was a transient concept. It wasnâ€™t your bed, your book, your park bench, your air. You just had passing and temporary rights to it, and the rights would fade as easily as they came to exist.
We’re probably a few years off this but a considerable amount of our media is going to be exclusively digital with just the hyperloyal fans buying the exclusive and therefore pricey physical boxsets and the like. If we only pay for “access” to the music though even for a year or for life, will we devalue the creative process of the content producers or will it mean the loyal fans who buy the boxsets and turn up at the concerts and shows let artists know they’re being appreciated? As an artist with all of the world able to access all of the music in the world, how are you going to get attention? Even more money spent on those marketing sharks or engage in a grassroots type campaign to build recognition? Another question, if people are given access to all the music in the world, can they be temped away from the overly manufactured pop drivel into listening to better quality music since they don’t have to pay to listen to it or try it?
Questions, questions, questions…